Sunday, May 10, 2015

Who Run this Mother

Two years ago today I woke up in my bed alone and shell-shocked. The day before, I had discovered thousands of dollars of unauthorized charges on my Amex account, traced them back to my girls' dad, and unceremoniously kicked him out of the house. Yes, you read that right: the day before Mother's Day, when I was having my "break," aka an  hour of paying bills online at the Starbucks down the street, I discovered my partner, my boyfriend of nearly 5 years, the father of my children, was stealing from me. This, a few days after he accused me of cheating on him, because I wouldn't have sex with him. A few weeks after I had received a letter at my office from his business landlord, stating that he owed thousands of dollars to HER and was facing eviction. A few months after he had spent the night of our second daughter's birthday in jail for stumbling to his parked car after a pub crawl and putting the key in the ignition. A few years after he had promised I would be able to stay at home with my babies and then promptly quit his job.

This is, of course, a one-sided picture: I know well my part in the dissolution. I took him for granted. Was passive-aggressive. Withheld affection. Withdrew into myself and became unable to speak to him in any sort of productive way. In the months before our separation, he was living 4 nights a week in a city 2 hours away, in an attempt to take advantage of big city prices (hence the big city eviction notice). On the nights he drove home, as soon as I heard his car pull in the driveway I would race to the bedroom, dive into the bed, and pretend to be asleep. I couldn't bear the reunion scene. It was hell for both of us, I know this.

But then. There was the theft, and the kicking-out, and the waking up in the bed alone in the light of day. On THAT Hallmark holiday: mothers are to be exalted, fed brunch in bed, given flowers, etc.

I never expected quite all that, but I never expected THAT day to be my first day as a single mom, either.

But I woke up, then the girls woke up. Daddy was gone, but that wasn't that unusual. I made some excuse about work or something, I can't even remember now. I made our usual Sunday morning pancakes. We all got ready and drove to my mother's house for lunch. In the afternoon I built a fort for us out of Adirondack chairs and sheets and blankets and we laid on the grass together and I told stories of princesses who saved themselves from dragons. And then we had a simple supper and I put the girls to bed and after they were well asleep I stood in the shower and cried. How the fuck am I going to do this? How am I going to do this alone

(In a drafty-ass 1800s-era farmhouse on more than an acre with a fish a cat a dog six chickens and two girls under age 5.)

Here's how: Go to bed alone, wake up alone, make the breakfasts, make the lunches, get everyone ready, have a day. Play. A lot. Get a lawyer, get the papers. Get on OKCupid. Get a boyfriend. (For a while). Go to work. Dance. A lot. Play. A lot. Cuddle and tickle and fall asleep too late or too early. Shout. Shriek. Get overwhelmed. Find a therapist. Make doctor's appointments. Make teacher conference appointments. Make daycare arrangements. Get new shoes for everyone. Get groceries. Get a really good fish tank. Learn how to fix the toilet. Learn how to order fuel oil. Learn how to light the pellet stove. Learn how to make pancakes in the shape of a horse. Learn how to enjoy your rare precious time alone. Take your vitamins. Meditate. Cry in the shower. Cry in the car. Cry in the office. Cry to your friends on the phone. Make them come visit you. Go visit them. Learn how to pack for yourself and two kids. Take road trips. Take airplanes. Test your safety nets. Go to bed alone.

Well. Sometimes I don't wake up alone. Sometimes, like this morning. I wake up between two blonde girls. Who have stolen my pillows and covers. This morning these two, not-so-little blonde girls woke up as soon as I opened my eyes. I was given strict instructions to go back to sleep and "sleep in as long as I wanted!" Ten minutes later a very proud 6 year old appeared carrying a mug of coffee made just how I like it. Five minutes after that two very proud girls appeared carrying plates of strawberries and untoasted sunbutter and jelly toast. And then I got cards and presents. The girls did this ALL by themselves, unprompted and unassisted and six and three years old. And we spent a harmonious day and hosted our own supper.

(Lest we get too rosy a picture: ok. Bedtime was rocky but I blame that squarely on the chocolate pie I insisted we make. Sometimes we make our own beds.)

Single mom, sure. Alone? Not even close.

Just like that, we take back THIS day.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

With Your Feet in the Air

My friends, my reader. Last year kicked my ass. My former dance teacher, two of my uncles, and my grandmother all died of cancer. My best-ever-in-my-life-this-is-the-ONE relationship fell apart and together and apart in a most painful way (because I am overly optimistic, and romantic, and stupid, and stubborn. I have only myself to blame, really). My big kid octopussed herself to my leg every day before kindergarten for a couple of months, came out of the terror to triumph, and then abruptly became a shivering mass of anxiety at school again for a few months after that. My little one became terrified of HER school. The girls' dad got arrested, got broke, got broke down cars, got up late for Christmas, refused to see the girls in spite of the court papers, refused to pay child support, all the sordid Jerry Springer shit, etc etc etc etc. My mother revealed some upsetting news to me after an upsetting vacation with her and my dad, and effectively made my workplace a very uncomfortable place. Four of my chickens got eaten by a fox. My tomatoes got blight. My drier broke.

None of this is chronological, sorry, or particularly tragic, truly. Sick people died. A rebound relationship failed. Stupid baby daddy gonna be stupid, etc. Stupid chickens gonna get et. Secondhand drier gonna break. There are worse things. I know.

It was just one of those YEARS, you know.

I have opened Blogger a million times with a blog post on my mind and all that would come to mind is OW FUCK THIS ALL SUCKS WHY WOULD YOU EVEN WRITE ABOUT THIS IT SUCKS AND OTHER PEOPLE'S SUCKAGE IS BORING. And, thus, over a year passed since my last post. Sorry, anyone who has visited here! Hope you enjoyed the old content! No I don't want to learn more about penis enlargement kthanxbai!

In September, between deaths & parenting & relationship dramas, I auditioned for the Nutcracker Burlesque again. Folks, behold your most-certainly-oldest-ever Clara:                                                                                                                                                  
A week or so before auditions, I had a flash, a vision of sorts: me, front and center-stage, audience in front of me cheering, some standing, the cast spread out behind me hooting and hollering. I had my hands over my heart and tears in my eyes and I was exhausted and grateful. It felt very real and I honestly wasn't surprised when I got the news that I would play the lead. I already knew. Fucking weird, right?

And a couple of days after this photo was taken, that exact scene played out for real. I was exhausted, heart-sore and body-sore. Off-stage, life had been overwhelming, sad, and cold. I felt at a distance from my kids, my family, my friends, hopeless about a lot of things. No one that really mattered to me came to see the show, this manifestation of so much effort and time and one of my proudest accomplishments. But still, every night I gave my whole self to that largely anonymous audience. I flirted and joked and and remembered all my choreography and my funny bits hit and my lifts all worked. There I was, at the last show. I had done it. I did my fucking best, and my best was really, actually, great. Seven shows, 15 weeks, hours and hours and hours of work. The audience ALL stood up and cheered. I felt my castmates behind me, cheering and smiling and crying with joy. I had my hands over my heart and tears in my eyes and I was grateful.

Thank you my legs, thank you my babysitter, thank you my castmates, thank you my director. Thank you, cheering audience. Thank you, flexible job that allowed me to spend time with my grandmother in her last week on earth and take naps during performance weeks. Thank you, flu shot, for keeping us mostly well. Thank you, chicken hatchery, for my sweet new flock. Thank you, present moment. Thank you, everything, like a fucking Alanis Morrissette song

Predictably, I had a low period after the show. All of the mourning that I'd held off, all at once. Sweatpants and pizza and ice cream and Netflix and super cranky parenting. I tried to get back into dating, but got the dreads and shut that down before I even started. I mostly stopped exercising. The snow kept piling up and up and up and it was cold and dark and I was just dragging myself along. I took myself to Brooklyn, and the girls to Florida, in an attempt to distract myself from my self-pity party. I had some lovely moments but was in a cloud. I pulled in, trying to reconnect with myself, my girls, my house. And I rested. I needed rest. I never rest. But I couldn't help it, this time.

Really, I'm just barely sort of coming out of it. I don't quite feel like myself yet. Setting my attention back on this blog, on writing in general, is part of my prescription. I'm going to date again (UGH FUCK WHY DO I HAAAAVE TOOOOO), so you'll hear about that. I'm going to work through missing my grandmother, so you'll hear about that. I'm going to fall back in love with my kids and my house and my body, so you'll hear about that. I'm going to get over my fucking self and get out of my own way, so you'll hear about THAT. It's gonna be a self-help party up in this joint.

So! Sorry about the new content! You don't have to keep reading. But I discover, again and again, that I have to keep writing. I hope last year didn't suck for you. But if it did, come here. Tell me all about it. Let's get better together.

xoxo, A

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


(Yep. It's been ages. But -- here, I shall just launch in and catch up and all those January things.)

One Saturday rehearsal, not so long ago, when things were not going so great -- the baby had kept me up for hours the night before, I was half-sick, everyone in the cast and everywhere was full-grumpy -- suddenly I was learning lifts. CRAZY lifts, ya'll. Like ok, he'll hold your left leg at waist-height, and you throw your other leg around his neck and swing the other down and around his torso then wrap it over his shoulder, hook your feet and drop your head toward the floor and he'll spin you and then you do a handstand out of it, ok? kind of lifts. Way out of my low-fast-and-alone sort of dance comfort zone. And it was hard. And I kept getting stuck and cranking my poor partner's neck with my leg, which suddenly felt like it was made of concrete. And this was only the first lift of the section which was made of lifts and I was going to break my partner's neck and oh-did-I-mention he's the lead and it would be really bad if I broke his neck?

My partner from Act 1, who happened to be great at lifts, noticed our struggles and said: It's a lot easier with momentum. Stop stopping.

And, lo, it was so. I stopped stopping. And though the lift never was perfect, even through the run of performances, it was better.  It was OK. And it was the tiniest moment in a huge wonderful thing.

And thus I got through the insane rehearsal and performance schedule, in spite of three colds, strep throat, and rotovirus (and those were just the times I got sick. The girls got milder versions of everything). In spite of major baby-daddy drama, up to and including retention of an attorney to sort through custody and contact issues. In spite of a messy house, a bum knee, extreme fatigue, bad moods, ice storms, Christmas preparations. I just stopped stopping. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, I just didn't stop. I made lists, I made plans on the fly, I learned another piece the week before opening night, I paid a million dollars to a babysitter. I live like a waitress works: I never ever go anywhere without something in my hands. I never make a move unless I can accomplish two tasks along the way. Exhausting, yes.

But also: worth it. All seven performances sold out. I was terrified the first night, and I am sure it showed. But by night seven the stage manager had to mop my sweat and my heart off that stage floor, because I remembered how to leave it all out there. I remembered what it feels like to play off a crowd, to feel applause in your whole body, to lose yourself in a moment for two hours, the intense camaraderie of backstage life, and the adrenaline, adrenaline, adrenaline.

And I have been peer-pressured to audition for the next show. It'll be another extreme scheduling and physical endurance challenge. But screw it. I am 40, and if Louis C.K. is right and each year will be worse than the one before, I'd better take advantage of the now. I won't be able to wear gold lame leggings and bustiers forever. But I DID. Maybe my grandchildren will be APPALLED some day.

And maybe someday I'll be like this awesome lady.

And with that. A Happy New Year to you all. May you find just the right momentum for all the insane lifts in life.

xoxo, A

Friday, October 4, 2013


My paternal grandparents got married when my grandmother was 18 and my grandfather was 28. Their marriage lasted, as was standard, until both of them died, two years apart, nearly 70 years later. They lived, until it was impractical, on a small farm in a small town in rural Maine. My grandmother was elected town clerk after stints as school lunch lady and post-office counter clerk -- I remember standing in awe in their parlor as she presided over the wedding of two young people who had put on their very best clothes for the occasion. They knew absolutely everyone in town and all the towns around, though they were not social. But still, once they took me and my brother to a Guy Fawkes party and I met one of Maine's slightly famous (more aptly, infamous) authors. I was impressed, but my grandmother was not, as the writer was a slattern and overly dramatic (her words). They had two sons, barely two years apart, both popular athletes who played football in college and went on to start their own businesses and marry pretty, petite women. My uncle's wife killed herself when my three cousins were very small. My grandparents took in my uncle and my cousins until he was ready to stand on his own again. My uncle and his second wife took in my grandparents when they became unable to keep up their own house.

Never once did I hear my grandmother complain about her circumstances, which to me, as an arrogant young person, looked circumscribed. I thought that my grandmother was missing out on the world: she only ever traveled once to Boston, and once to Washington D.C., in her entire life. I wanted bigger and better and more and moved to bigger and better and more cities, traveled to Europe, had dumb misadventures, and grand-ish true adventures, never got married, bought an old farmhouse on the edge of a small city, and had two children out of wedlock, and though I am sure my grandmother must have had opinions or judgments about my life, which looked nothing like any life she ever knew, she never once offered any. She was unfailingly supportive and proud of all of us cousins (her one trip to Boston was for my college graduation) but of course I didn't think she would understand anything about me and my life so after my tween years I stopped telling her anything of any import.

My grandfather passed away the day after Christmas, almost 6 years ago now. He told my grandmother he was tired, laid down in his twin bed next to hers, and never woke up. His memorial service was very well attended. In the spring following, we had a family gathering in the tiny rustic graveyard where that side of the family lies. I remember being utterly stunned when my grandmother wailed over my grandfather's gravestone. They'd had a full lifetime together after all, one which I imagined to be fond, but not overly. Lots of hard work, and probably very not romantic. But there she was, in her nineties, keening like you'd see in a movie with young lovers were separated by death or other dire circumstance, and my dad and uncle had to hold her by her arms so she would not fall down. Suddenly a rush of memories came flooding back to me: the way my grandfather had always fondly chided my grandmother about bustling around the kitchen while we were all sitting down and eating. The beautiful and impractical flowers he tended so she could cut them for her vases around the house. The way he never failed to thank her for the delicious meals she cooked day in and day out. The way she always asked if he could hear the baseball game, which would remind him to turn up his hearing aid. The way she slept through years of his tremendous snoring and while they did have separate beds, they never once had separate rooms. There was never any outward drama, or noisy fuss. I never once heard a raised voice in that house.

That was a whole life together.

The weekend I asked Tim to leave my house, a very good friend of mine was in town. My friend came over a couple of nights into my fresh single parenthood bearing a bottle of Jack Daniels and three pints of Ben and Jerry's. I was grateful for the gesture but also thought that I very much needed to keep my wits about me. I had no idea what my next move would be, had lost my voice, and had allowed myself to cry exactly once for about 5 minutes, when I was in the shower, after I put the girls to bed. I decided I didn't need numbing. I didn't need crying. Somehow I would forge ahead without all of the dramatics that had marked every single breakup or disappointment in my life, previously. And so I have done, to a large extent. That impulse feels right, still.

What I mourn now, during any slivers of time in that kind of head-space, is not the particular man or that particular relationship. As I have mentioned (repeatedly, I know; sort of like someone saying "so-and-so, my husband" in the weeks after the wedding, to get used to it), I am happy with my life right now and looking forward to the next chapter. But damned if I am not sometimes bummed out that I will not have a whole life together like my grandparents did. Sometimes I wonder if I should have married my high school boyfriend, as we were planning, and just taken the lumps, or maybe I should have at least taken the leap with SOME one SOME time during all of my gallivanting. It's easy to be revisionist, and I know all of my choices afford me the opportunity to be (hopefully) a better parent and (hopefully) a better partner in the future. The girls would not exist as they are in any of my alternate universes and that is a sad thought. But I do wonder: what choices will they make, or not make, once they learn about the turns of my life? My life and my choices were largely reactionary, based on wanting MORE than my grandmother, MORE than my mother -- who never really hid her resentment that she had married so young and mothered so young. MORE than so many of my classmates, who never left Maine, or even my hometown. What will my girl's antidotes be, for having a mother who had children after so much MORE? What is the antidote for not even being able to remember your parents living under the same roof?

Tuesday night in yoga class, while I was starting to get into full wheel along with the rest of the class, the teacher came over and put a strap behind my shoulder blades and lifted up and forward. I felt my chest expand, almost painfully, and my feet almost left the floor. I am only just newly able to get into full wheel again. Before I left Brooklyn, before I met Tim, before I had my babies, I loved full wheel. The pose is open and expansive and somehow in these intervening years I collapsed in on myself and lost the knack for it. I let myself get mired in self-pity, depression, pettiness (I changed the last three diapers/you went out the last two Saturdays) and forgot: how open, how expansive, the sweep of a whole life. How wonderful and precious to have lived a whole life together. Maybe I won't have that.  Maybe my girls won't. Maybe they will. And after the pose is done and the teacher moves away to the next student I lie on my mat, with my heart almost painfully open, and think of my grandparents, and tears roll down my face. And then I get up and and shower off the tears and sweat and two days later write it all down without knowing, really, how to end. Probably because it isn't an end.

xoxo, A

Thursday, September 19, 2013


It all started because I am dumb about technology. No, wait. It started before that. While I was gestating Little A., so many moons ago, I worked for a funny little nonprofit. My officemate, the super sweet Celeste, mentioned this funny little show one of her friends was performing in. My ears perked up, because, as I have mentioned before, performing dance is in my all-time top-ten favorite things to do. But I was pregnant and new in town and and and and...the timing was wrong. I couldn't even go SEE the show because the timing was wrong. And then my life got a little more complicated. And then I got pregnant again and my life got a lot more complicated. And I resigned myself to never doing a lot of things that I might have always wanted to do. And I missed myself, but not critically. And and and. 

Fast forward to this summer. This summer when everything went all to pieces but even the tiniest little pieces, stuck back together with scotch tape and sometimes just scotch, are so much better than the whole used to be. A dear friend mentioned the show again, somehow, in passing. Maybe while we were at the gym, or at the playground. Between diaper changes and tantrum management, the show stuck in my head this time. I am in pretty good shape, I thought. I should maybe just start taking dance classes again, I thought. And then one night, while scrolling around Facebook on my phone, I sorta-kinda accidentally pushed this check-mark icon next to an audition announcement (I thought it was to open the event page). And a couple of friends noticed and "liked" that I was going to go. And then other friends asked, "Are you really going to go?" What the hell, I'll go, I thought.

AND SO. I got cast, you guys. I am IN that funny little show. Except it's not little. Every weekend between now and Christmas I am in rehearsals. Usually both days of the weekend. Usually for at least two hours. And then there are SEVEN shows over two weekends and our family calendar looks INSANE. Of course I have the guilts for leaving the girls for all those hours, but in the grand scheme of things? Nearly all of that time, they will be with their dad. And that is really good. And it is just a few weekends out of an entire year and our lifetimes. Yes, I am crazy for even thinking of it, but AWAY WE GO.

Last weekend was the first weekend of rehearsals. This week, I bought an extra giant bottle of ibuprofen and only today, 4 days later, have I regained pain-free function of my neck (turns out burlesque involves a lot of hair-whipping. Who knew?). But leaving that rehearsal on Sunday afternoon was the best. I felt like...myself. The myself I ignored for years. The myself I hope someday my girls will tell each other old familiar stories about, with at least a small amount of pride and self-recognition. Because myself is kind of grabbing life by the balls right now. Myself: taking care of business and having fun. What a concept, huh? I'm not saying it's perfect: my house is smells funny and the girls' hair is always a mess and we are probably going to have grilled cheese sandwiches AGAIN tonight. But we are also having a lot of fun, and I am keeping an eagle eye on everyone's emotional well-being and who cares if the socks don't match. We are all sleeping, eating, and growing.

So, again, I bring you the profoundest-blogger life lesson: JUST DO THINGS. I mean, I am the first person in history to realize this, right? WHERE IS MY GODDAMN BOOK DEAL.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Familiars (1 of 3)

Most evenings, in the tiny sliver of time between supper and tub, I run out the back door to to check on the chicken ladies. I drop off any peelings or cucumber-end snack might be left from our meal, secure the coop, bring in an egg or two, etc. A little moment to myself before our bedtime routine/chaos. One night, for some reason, I waited until after the girls were both tucked in and quiet, so it was a bit later than usual. The sun was setting all pink and gorgeous. I had a glass of wine at the ready and some Parks and Rec on the Netflix queue. So, you know, it was gonna be a good night. As I approached, the chickens were bawk-bawk-bawking around their little enclosure and looked at me with some alarm. But they are ALWAYS alarmed, and ALWAYS bawking, so I thought nothing of it. I threw some spinach into the pen, and turned on the little flashlight app so I could poke around for eggs. And heard a rustling, crunching sound. I turned my light toward the sound. In the corner of the coop where the nest was that week, the light revealed a pile of really soft-looking glossy black fur. A cat in the coop? The fuck? I thought. And then the cat moved and showed me its equally soft looking glossy white-striped back because NOT CAT! SKUNK!!1!!!! SKUNK!!!!!11!1!11!11

Yes, ok. I live in Maine, but in the suburbs! Why are all the animals in my face all the time? Anyway, luckily, the skunk didn't register my presence, and continued crunching away at the egg pile.

I don't know if I have ever moved so quickly plus silently in my life, you guys. Without even knowing fully how I got there, I found myself in the middle of my back lawn, dialing Tim on the phone. I explained the situation and his words, his REAL ACTUAL WORDS were: Wow! Well, that's probably the worst thing that could happen, huh? Well...don't go back in, I guess? So...very...helpful. We agreed that he would block any potential entry points the following evening (we are doing a sort-of nesting deal, post forthcoming). I spent the next half hour googling "will skunks kill chickens." And finally realized the sheer force of my worry would not actually keep the skunk from killing my chickens, went inside and forced myself to have my relaxing evening. To brace myself against the possibility of returning to a coop full of headless birds the next day.

The skunk did not kill my chickens that night. Praise baby Jesus.

So. In the following weeks the skunk and I got into a routine. I would race out to the coop after bolting down my supper, collect any eggs, and race back inside. Every third night or so, I would leave the eggs there so the skunk enjoy a tasty snack that was not the blood of my flock. Sometimes the skunk would beat me to the coop and I would find nothing but empty shells. We even bumped into each other a couple of times but somehow I never got sprayed, and it never got spooked off.

And one night, while I was sitting on the back deck, I watched the skunk squeeze itself out from under the coop. You know how cats fit themselves into impossible spaces? It was like that, in reverse. Its narrow head stuck out of this teeny-tiny hole under the corner of the coop, and then the rest of its bulk shimmied out after. Twice the size of a housecat. Fluffy and silent. I watched the skunk squeeze itself into another tiny opening to get into the coop. The chickens didn't even raise an alarm. I stayed outside until the skunk went back into its basement apartment, and went in myself.

One evening not too long after that, our beloved Brooklyn friends were visiting. And suddenly there was a smell. A SMELL THAT YOU COULD TASTE. If you've never had the pleasure of experiencing REALLY fresh skunk spray -- well, it is...thick. And...oily. It clings to every part of the inside of your nose, pungent as fuck. It's otherwise indescribable. We had to close the windows. And the smell was still so strong that it kept me awake.

And the next morning, just up the street from my driveway, was the body of a skunk. Of course I can't confirm if it was "my" skunk. But. We have too many eggs, now.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Every Little Thing

Over the past few weeks the girls and I have put on some major mileage and had so much fun and are basically squeezing all the adventure we possibly can out of these few precious weeks of summer our New England climate gives us. And summer is loving us back.

Brooklyn: We walked to three playgrounds in one day (!), I had too-much wine and wonderful catch-up time with my girlfriends (!!) and then we took a FERRY to HEAVEN (!!!) and it was so absurdly magical that I had a little lump in my throat for most of the weekend.

Parenting at the same time, in the same place, with old friends, is amazing. You see them in a best, new light. And you also see that you are the same to them, and they are the same to you, even though everything is different.

And. As with most things, once you are actually doing the thing, it just...unfolds. I was in a mild twist about having the girls in the car for so long and general traveling solo-parent-style. And, of course: There was a grating 45-minute stretch of whining (the mamuuuuh mamaaaaaah maaaamuuuh sob sob thing that makes one wish ears were never even invented) instigated by my darling eldest before she took her own trip to Nap-ville, at the beginning of the 3rd hour of driving on the way down. As per my "breaks every 2 hours" rule, we had just pulled back on the road from our Big Treat fast-food lunch when the whining began. I wanted to shove their new Minion toys (which Baby G. promptly christened "my pickle-bull" after "despicable") into my ears. But then my big girl gave in to her fatigue and slept the entire rest of the ride to the CT grandparents' house and proceeded to have the best times ever for the rest of the weekend. There was one night wherein we all couldn't fall asleep for shit, and then slept like crap. There was a terrifying thunderstorm on the way back during which I discovered 1., the wipers on the car are inadequate, 2., the defrost on the car is inadequate and 3., when you are on a busy highway and you can't see past the front of your car, and you just have to pull over praying that everyone will let you do so, your hands can shake so hard that it can take upwards of 15 minutes to calm them so they will not also be inadequate. I could have done without those parts, but then, we could have just not gone, and none of the good stuff would have happened either.


Portland, Maine (with beloved houseguests): Not one but TWO trips to the best ice cream shop/petting zoo ever. A golden afternoon at the beach. Magic-hour suppers on my back porch. Three adorable little girls playing together. Not one, not two, but THREE amazing good ol'fashioned late-night hangouts with my girlfriend who is, no contest, the best person in the world with whom to destroy your liver. Resultant hilarious hung-over parenting afternoons. And the aforementioned precious chance to share space with an old friend, who is also a (great) mom and a (great) wife.

I had a little Gretchen-Rubin-esque epiphany during that week. You know how some people just make you feel wonderful and like yourself? Your best self, in the most Oprah-manner of speech, but in an effortless way? These people are your "inflators" and you should cling to them always, and make them fly hundreds of miles to see you and your children. Guilt them into it, I don't care. Just get them into your space. And you should drive or fly hundreds of miles to see them, also. The other kind of people are "deflators" who make you feel bad and fuck them.That is what I learned that week.

Northport, Maine: For a few years now, my family has been heading up the coast of Maine for our family business's association retreat. This sounds like it should be boring, but it is not, not by a long shot. The first year, Little A. was just barely there: I had confirmed my pregnancy the very day before we drove 4 hours to Bar Harbor and I spent the whole weekend bobbing around in that heady mixture of joy and panic that is the beginning of pregnancy and also wondering if everyone would notice my avoidance of wine and blue cheese. This year, our fourth year, I finally got the whole weekend RIGHT. I hired one of Little A.'s beloved teachers, Miss Alicia, to babysit. My brother and his kids were also coming, and Miss Alicia knows them very well also. Alicia was fantastic all weekend - she required absolutely NO instruction, she was up for anything, and she can drive a golf cart. (I have a ridiculous inability to drive anything smaller than a car. So stupid! I need to get over it.) So, A+ childcare choice.

The drive up to the resort was rainy and sleepy, but the weather also meant very little traffic. I would only give myself an A- for transport because my car broke down that morning, all full of our stuff, but then I got to drive my dad's fancy Audi, so maybe I get just a regular A.

Friday evening there is always a lobster bake/ridiculous dance party. The girls were happy to learn the Macarena and hang in the bounce-house until bedtime (A- for much later than usual bedtime). My dad started drinking CC over ice at 6 pm and didn't stop until well after he had danced with my mother - TWICE - to "Blurred Lines." That was a scene, my friends, that I will never forget. I will never forget. I also might have taught my mother how to dance "Gangnam Style," but there was no video recording so let's just pretend it never happened. I might have been drinking rum. Weirdest-wedding-ever-dance-party: A+!

Poor Baby G. succumbed to a tummy bug overnight on Friday, so I spent the pre-dawn hours  changing both of us out of multiple pairs of barfed-upon PJs. Friday-into-Saturday, I'm afraid, gets a D. But Saturday officially dawned bright and lovely and we all went to the beach (A) and with plenty of Tylenol and cuddles, by afternoon, the Baby was just fine (B+). And all the grownups went to a wine-tasting (A), which was fun except day-drinking should be followed either by more drinking or immediate napping and I did neither (C+) and by 9 pm that night I was DONE. My brother and his wife were DONE too, so they took me down the mountain in their golf cart, collected my nieces from my cabin, and we all went to bed early (A+). But that was OK too. We all slept like champions and drove home the next day without incident (A-).

Weekend cumulative average: A

And this weekend, well. For the first time ever, the Green Team is splitting up to have separate adventures. Little A. is spending the weekend with my parents, and has already told me that she is going to "take Nana on all the rides at Santa's Village because otherwise Nana might not have fun. And Grampa can take pictures." Baby G. is going to her first Red Sox game with her dad, CT grandparents, and uncle. And I am headed up the coast again for a little getaway of my own. This will be the first night I have spent away since Baby G was born. I am going to miss the dickens out of those girls but oh, oh, oh. SLEEPING IN and other adult-y things, how I have longed for thee.

I used to hate summer. Indoorsy, bookish nerds with an aversion to bare skin don't fare well with heat and sweat and tourists all around. But now I can see what all the hype is about: it's fun. FUN! Summer is a stupid and highly inappropriate Daft Punk song blasting out of your car window and all three of us girls singing along. Summer is ice cream dripping down your chin. Summer is the perfect light reflecting off the slick of low tide. Summer is a little black dress under fireworks. And I'm paraphrasing myself here, but around these parts, Summer 2013 is delivering fun, on all fronts.

So, what did you do on your summer vacation?

xoxo, A